The Existential Transience of Magnetic Poetry

Why is magnetic poetry so damn satisfying? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself ever since I discovered the availability of the magnetic poetry app on my new HTC phone.

There is something addictive about the physicality of words, the way they move and squirm under your fingertips. They are never the same twice. We are never the same twice.

It is the realisation of words as tactile objects, like pebbles in a stream, constantly tumbled and re-shaped into new combinations.

Turning the words into physical building blocks makes us remember the playful aspects of language. ‘Playing’ with language brings us back to a time when words were new and exciting, shiny baubles to roll around and lift up to catch the light.

Magnetic poetry also brings with it the advantages of having a limited wordset; the boundaries spur our creativity, just as writing in a strict form like a haiku or a sonnet forces us to think creatively  and build upon the frame.

Writing magnetic poetry is a bit like carving the sculpture from the block of marble. Chipping away at the flotsam of words until you reveal the poem at its core, the poem that was there all along.

… The poem that will disappear from your fridge door in half a week when your brother’s mates come around and pick out all of the ‘naughty’ words to string together into laughably erotic sentences. But it’s this transience, fleetingness, ephemerality, that makes magnetic poetry so intoxicating.

You can play magnetic poetry online here, and please feel free to post your experiments and results in all their glory in the comments section below.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Nick
    Jan 16, 2012 @ 19:56:34

    I notice the overwhelming number of experiments posted in the comments section… Perhaps like me the readers feel somewhat hesitant to pit their meager literary talents against the “melting ocean of liquid words” above.
    I’ve long known your love of magnetic poetry from the intoxicating/ed enjoyment round K’s fridge, but to read your beautifully written explanation has definitely expanded my own appreciation of this transient art form. Well that or I was just attracted by “shiny baubles”


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